Eva Chen knows a good Instagram moment when she sees one. A Kendall Jenner sighting certainly applies — or, at least, a sighting of the crowd lined up outside the V Magazine offices on New York’s Mercer Street on Friday, waiting to meet Jenner. The short length and ambiguity of the event made it a perfect Stories moment, explained Chen, the head of fashion partnerships at Instagram, typing a quick caption over her clip to provide context. “If I had gone Live, no one would have seen it because it takes a little while for people to tune in to Live,” she said.
Yes, there’s strategy to Instagramming — all the more so during fashion month, when media, influencers, brands, PR companies, celebrities and even regular people clamor for attention. Glossy connected with Chen, en route to the Jason Wu show last Friday, to learn her tips.
If there are no celebrity appearances in your orbit, “slices of life” make perfect Stories, too.
“Anything kind of funny, or random [works] — things that I’d want to stay up for 24 hours,” said Chen, listing everything from runway looks to cool graffiti spotted on the streets of New York as examples. She called out blogger Aimee Song as one who uses the Stories product particularly well. Song invites followers to peek into corners of her life that are less curated than those they’re used to seeing on her main feed and her blog, Song of Style. Stories include her giving a shout-out to her NYFW driver to catching her boyfriend stealing bites of her soup. “Her followers, who are like rabidly obsessed with her, feel like they’re there with her,” Chen said.
Live, on the other hand, is ephemeral.
“At first I was like oh, ‘I don’t know–what’s the point?’” joked Chen of her introduction to Live. “But then, once I started doing it, I saw so much value to it. The moment you press ‘end video,’ it goes away forever — it really takes the pressure off.” Now, she uses it mostly to stream Q-and-A sessions with her fans, an approached used by others in fashion, like stylist Brad Goreski. “It’s very open and authentic, and I think —because people know it goes away — they’re a bit more casual,” she said. A live Q-and-A Chen did on the way to the Wu show had fans asking her everything from her favorite leggings brand to whether or not she’d be attending the 3.1 Phillip Lim show. She didn’t announce she’d be going live this time around, and she rarely does. Designers, on the other hand, often alert their fans via Stories or a photo on their original feed to any live-streaming events they have planned.
Live-streaming shows has been especially popular with designers this season.
This New York Fashion Week has seen a wide range of brands, from Calvin Klein to Tommy Hilfiger, live-stream their runway shows. “It’s so low-lift, so low-maintenance — and for most of the brands, their audience is already there,” Chen said. But, ideally, a brand would utilize all that the app has to offer, all at once — instructing different team members to post to Live, Stories and the feed simultaneously. But juggling this trifecta of instant content is in its infancy for most companies, who are used to much longer lead times on anything they produce. “With fashion, the tendency has always been to do really curated images, or images that are really perfect,” said Chen. With Stories and Live, you can offer your followers more raw material: the week leading up to a show, for instance, the chaos behind-the-scenes or a glimpse of the raucous after-party. “You want to hit all three, because you want all three levels of engagement,” said Chen.
The freedom to mix things up in a way that makes you feel great. Welcome to TOMMYLAND! 🌴☀️#TOMMYNOW
A photo posted by Tommy Hilfiger (@tommyhilfiger) on Feb 10, 2017 at 12:12pm PST
There’s no “right way” to Instagram.
Some might argue that “hitting all three” is overkill, especially when fashion week–goers are often already more focused on their phones than the clothes right in front of them. “I get it,” said Chen, of those who are anti–social media while at the shows. “I think there are always going to be designers for whom less is more. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I do think there are ways to show enough on Instagram. The reality is that Instagram is 600 million people around the world, with over 150 million people using Stories. It just seems like, if you have a fan base and you have people who want to learn about your brand, wouldn’t you want to share it with them?” For couture this past January — the first collection under Maria Grazia Chiuri — Dior posted beautiful photographs of the collection, and live-streamed its show and shot Stories showing guest arrivals. It all comes down to the brand, Chen said. You wouldn’t expect Marc Jacobs to handle social media the same way as, say, Lacoste. “There’s no one right way to do Instagram,” said Chen, “but, ultimately, we’re living in a day and age when people want to be connected.”
Shoppable content is the next frontier for Instagram.
For anyone with a verified account, links can now be added to Stories — a feature Instagram intends to roll out to the masses soon. The company has also launched a small test group of brands that offer shoppable organic posts, including Warby Parker, J. Crew and Glossier. “We picked partners that would give us the greatest diversity of learning,” said Chen. “It’s really just an extension of tagging pictures, where you can now learn the product name, price, and click to shop now.”
Who’s killing it on Instagram Stories, according to Eva Chen:
Gucci – “They don’t post on Stories everyday, but when they do, they hand it over to friends of the house. The other day, it was their collaborator for last season, Jade Fish, an illustrator from San Francisco who Alessandro found through Instagram. (He’s really into Instagram.)”
Olivier Rousteing – “Because he has a very fun life.”
Tanya Taylor – “She has a lot of personality. She’ll take you on trips with her, and you’ll feel like you’re there.”
Love Magazine – “They do really fun takeovers, pretty much every day. Today is very randomly Brienne of Tarth [Gwendoline Christie] from Game of Thrones.”
Allure – “They have a different editor do a takeover every day, so it’s programmed — for example, Monday is the accessories editor and Tuesday is the beauty editor.”